Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Burning Soy Silk

OK, I am wondering if there are any fibers out there that anyone has had problems with concerning heat issues? By that, I mean fibers that melt or burn quickly if introduced to heat or flames.

I only ask this because just recently I was heating all my spun yarn and loose fibers in the microwave to kill any moths or bugs. Just to be on the safe side and since I don't know a whole lot about the fiber, I thought I would try a skein of soysilk. Well, less than a minute into the two minute cycle, I could smell something funky. No smoke coming from the microwave so I went to check out the candle. No candle mishap, so I went back to the microwave. I peeked in and it looked as if the skein had shrunk!?! Well, I turned off the microwave and the soysilk skein was so hot that I could not touch it with my bare hands. Normally, I can just grab fibers from the microwave and set them on the counter to cool a bit, but not the soysilk. I used a towel and then picked at the strands with my fingers to check the yarn. Low and behold, the strand of yarn that had cooled was as stiff as a board. I picked through it some more and the interior was black melted mess! OH and it stunk to high heaven! All of this damage was done in less than a minute and a half.

This got me to thinking about the safety of all the new 'eco-friendly' fibers out there. Come to find out that ingeo, a fiber made from corn, melts at temperatures over 140 Fahrenheit. I know that corn plastic is becoming all the rage now with various plastic items being made out of it from pens to screw-drivers, but to what extent is it's safety? I don't know about you, but my idea of cute knit top is one that does not melt into your skin.

Does anyone else out there know of any more safety issues with spinning fibers?


Anne said...

Wow interesting - I'd never have thought of that, but in some ways, it makes sense.. makes you wonder about knitting things up in them for folks to wear :o

Anonymous said...

In all my textile studies and coservation work in college, we never used heat to kill bugs and stuff. No matter the fiber content, you run a risk of fire and damaging the yarn. Bugs and moths should always be killed off by putting the item in doubled plastic and putting it in the freezer for several weeks.
Onthe idea of a top melting onto me? I wouldn't want to have that happen either, but I think I would already be a gonner by the time heat (flame) was above about 100 or 110° degrees anyway. I would most asuradly be dwead if I was in flames hot enough to melt something at 140°!

Spingirl said...

I think this is absolutely something to keep in mind. What is the government office that oversees flammability of clothing, bedding, etc.? It might be a good idea to contact that office to see if any studies have been done (well, I'm convinced by your unofficial study!!) Every spinner & knitter should know about this.

That said, we are wearing polyester in much of our clothing, which melts too. I don't know what the temp range is though.

Knit Lunabud Knit said...

While freezing yarn/roving seems like a very smart idea, it simply will not work if you have mass quantities of fiber. I would need a walk in freezer!...lol Heat should not hurt your fibers if you use it correctly. Otherwise, we sure would be having problems getting those lovely dye colors to set;)

You don't have to 'be in flames' to be near extremely hot heat sources. Take for example leaving a piece of knitting made of ingeo in your car on a hot summer day. Temperatures definitely reach over 140 degrees inside your car in the summer. Another example would be while you are near a fire say while camping and you are sitting very close for warmth. And yet another example would be if you work around hot metals say in a steel shop. Or if you were cooking with gas, an outdoor grill or an open flame.

I am sure there are many examples I have probably missed. Weirder things can happen and I guarantee that if they are going to happen to some one, it will be me...lol

Plus, I never put anything past the human race. If said act probably shouldn't be done, we find a way to do it and then blame others for our own stupidity when it slaps us in the face.

HollyEQQ said...

I saw a great test on all of the new products out on the internet somewhere - it basically said that almost all of the new fibers are flammable - highly flammable since they are mostly made of unnatural materials.
Do not micro:
some silks

They will do exactly what yours did. You are very lucky it didn't combust!
Here is one place I read about it - but there was actually a test done by some spinners - wish I could remember where it was.

Happy Spinning

Other Fun Facts..................

I taught myself to knit by watching a woman while on a flight from Scotland to the USA in 1996.

I taught myself how to spin yarn Feb 15th, 2007. I think I've done fairly well:)

'Lunabud' is a combination of two dogs' names I was loved by, Buddy and Luna:)